The meaning of oshiete (教えて) and how to use it

This article will give you all of the knowledge you need on the Japanese word oshiete, including its Japanese definition and translation, example sentences, related expressions and more!

What does oshiete mean?

Oshiete (教えて、おしえて) means teach me or tell me in Japanese. Oshiete is the informal command form of the verb oshieru (教える、おしえる; to teach). As you might expect, you commonly use this word when you want to get some information from someone.

Examples of how to use oshiete

Oshiete means teach me or tell me in Japanese.

Below, we take a look at some examples of how to use oshiete in Japanese.

To make it easier for you, I have written each sentence in full Japanese kanji in the first line, followed by roman letters (romaji), and hiragana, with the English meaning coming last.

Nihongo wo oshiete!
Teach me Japanese!

Okaasan no denwa bangou wo oshiete.
Tell me your mother’s phone number.

LINE ID wo oshiete.
Tell me your LINE ID.

Onegai dakara himitsu oshiete yo.
Come on, tell me the secret.

Oshiete kudasai: Please tell me

Oshiete means teach me or tell me in Japanese.

You can make oshiete more polite by adding kudasai (ください; please; this word also featured in a previous article explaining yamete kudasai) to form the phrase oshiete kudasai.

Eigo wo oshiete kudasai.
Please teach me English.

Mou sukoshi kuwashiku oshiete kudasai.
Please tell me in a bit more detail.

Kanojo no jyuusho wo oshiete kudasai.
Please tell me her address.

Also note that, since Japanese usually leaves pronouns out, oshiete kudasai can also translate as please tell us, among others possibilities. The context will reveal which.

Moshi kanou de areba, jizen ni okonomi no ryouri wo oshiete kudasai.
If at all possible, please tell us your preferred type of food ahead of time.

A note on the infamous “please teach me English”

"Eigo wo oshiete kudasai" means please teach me English.

If you spend any significant amount of time in Japan as an obvious foreigner, Japanese people are, at some point, likely to ask you to teach them English: Eigo wo oshiete kudasai (英語を教えてください).

This is something that splits a lot of foreigners living here. Some even get offended.

“Are they trying to get free English lessons off me?”
“Do Japanese people view all of us foreigners as walking English machines?!”

It’s all a bit more innocent and well-meaning than that.

When someone says the “teach me English thing” to you, they are essentially announcing two things (if subconsciously).

  1. First, they would like to improve their English but probably believe they suck at it. This is more of a vague aspiration than a real request for you to help. So you can relax. No need to bring a textbook to your next meeting.
  2. Second and most importantly, they would like to have a non-Japanese friend. They are basically saying “I hope to get to know you better”.

I would actually put this vague but common phrase somewhat close to yoroshiku onegaishimasu (よろしくお願いします), which roughly means “I hope we have a good relationship” or simply “nice to meet you”. To sum it all up, don’t overthink it!